$400? You’ve got to be kidding?

I have a couple of things to report. Both of them good, despite the title.

First, after two days of pottering about, we went on a boat trip. A $400 boat trip. For those of you unsure of the exchange rate, that’s about £300 – or the price of a decent road bike. Or Doris’s insurance renewal. You’re getting the picture?

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quicker than it looks

Our Jen, who with James, visited B&S earlier in the year, went on this day-long boat trip from Nassau out to one of the cays that make up The Bahamas. It’s $200 each and worth every cent – so she told us. To add treacle to the tart, both Bex and Jen said they would pay for C as it was a senior birthday this year. Bless them.

Even so, $400?

Well I have to say that $400 was cheap. What a day. Let me explain. 24 of us, including two loud, elderly Trump supporters, got on a fibreglass rocketship, which was fitted with four Yamaha 250hp outboards (that’s 1,000hp, the same as a Bugatti Veron). Then, across a sea which was like glass, we spent an hour speeding at 40 mph – that’s unecessarily quick -making our way towards West Africa. I could smell the fuel being burnt. Fabulous.

On a small beach the captain – we had four ushers and they were all great – just ran the boat aground on the sand. We were then given large cocktail sticks and handfuls of grapes (that must have cost $100, knowing Bahamian prices) and let lose on feeding a bunch of iguanas. Iguanas are like small dragons, but more scary. They have teeth and are blind, so can easily mistake a big toe for a grape. This was the first of our brushes with nature’s predators. Brill.

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I must check my toes

We then drove (at a million miles an hour) to another beach which had a couple of shacks on it. This would be our home for the next 5 hours. Food was provided; sandwiches and dips on arrival and a lovely fish and beef BBQ for lunch. And all the drink was free. Pretty much anything. As many times as you like, which I think is brave of them as, with some of the team quickly under the weather, we were about to swim with sharks.

First we fed the stingrays. Was this the best experience of my life? Close to it. Before we were given strips of fish for the rays to suck off our upturned hands, they swum among us. Between us. Bashing into our legs. Letting us stroke them. They can and do sting, but only if you really piss them off. Which we tried very hard not to.

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fabulous

Then the sharks. We’re talking human sized sharks (more C sized than me, to be fair). The staff fed them with dead fish on pieces on nylon rope. We all stood in the water as the sharks were hauled towards us and lifted out of the water. They chomped through the thick nylon rope – three times. Which made the snorkelling bit of the day which followed, extra interesting. The sharks had been fed, but they hadn’t gone anywhere. So as we snorkelled out to the rip tide, the sharks (sort of, but not on purpose) swam among us. One came within a couple of feet of my face. One swam below C. The guys shooed them away with the safety boat, but by then we’d already had our close encounter of the shark kind.  Then we swam down the rip tide like the turtles in Finding Nemo. I saw a turtle! It was another great experience.

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our home for 5 hours

Lunch, then more drink (our v loud Trump supporters had stopped being quite so Texan at that point, because they were struggling to string a couple of words together) and time to relax as the chef knocked up a conch salad. Mmmm, not my idea of a fun dish.

And then back on the rocket ship and home for tea and medals! Hurrah. So, my advice. If you come to the Bahamas – bring an extra $400 with you and go on #powerboatadventures. Fab.

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A quick update on book stuff. Loving book 4 (Money for Something?), now 42/120k words in and having no problem with 1,500 words a day. And Amazon UK have at last started marketing Fuelling the Fire. Have a guess what? As a result the books are selling. Hurrah!

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hurrah!

All-in-all, a couple of very good days.

Into the eye of the storm…

We made it. Into the eye of the storm. And that’s mostly thanks to Rebecca. If she hadn’t phoned us in NY on Wednesday night, telling us that Nassau was closing its airport late Thursday, we would have been oblivious to it all and arrived at JFK on Friday with no wings to take us to The Bahamas. After some tooing and froing with Delta, we brought our itinerary forward by a day, boarded a 220-seat 777 with only 7 other passengers and enjoyed the most luxurious 3-hour flight we ever have had the pleasure of taking.

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So, we’re here. What’s it like (other than very windy at the moment)? It’s a second-world country inhabited by a whole load of first-world people. There’s money aplenty – hotel rooms are expensive to extortionate. Basic provisions – for everyone – are 2/3 times what you’d pay in the UK. But there’s also a lot of poverty, swathes of uneducated people and more gun crime (I heard that there’s already been 90 murders this year) than is comfortable. Although, it seems that they leave tourists well alone and much of the heavy crime is gang related – however, Bex and Steven have moved into a gated community after they were robbed of everything last year.

And Irma? We were expecting very high winds, lots of rain and a tide surge that would sink the bottom floor of B&S’s house.

Our first job on Friday was to sandbag the front and rear doors, and then help B&S take anything precious up a floor. In the end, the preparation was unnecessary. Yes it has been (and still is) windy, but the tide-surge didn’t breach the seawall and we have remained high and dry. It’s worth noting that Bahamian properties are mostly built to withstand hurricanes. Those on the less prestigious islands, and most of Florida, are not. We’ll see how that pans out.IMG_20170909_085420_764

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C and Bex as the storm thrashed about

So, all’s well here. I’ve not much more to add, save I’ve finished my article entitled ‘How I became a reasonably unsuccessful author.’ I will put that up later in the week. And I’ve restarted Chapter 4 of book 4 (I must find a name). Marketing via FB, Instagram and Twitter continue.

I am a writing machine!

The skye is leaking …

We came to Skye to look over the plans for Jen’s (our younger’s) wedding. She and James have decided that next March they want to get married up here – where the wind blows and the sky leaks. It is very romantic, and the place they have chosen for the (very small) wedding and reception is lovely. But it is a long way from absolutely anywhere and, I would argue, Gretna Green is just as romantic. And closer. We mustn’t grumble. Unlike our elder’s recent affair, at least we won’t have to spend three days in decorating mode – the venue pretty much does it all for us.

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Bob, Cath et al enjoying Skye

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Watching the CalMac ferry from Armadale

We love the northwest stretch of our green and pleasant land. Its greener. And much more pleasant up here. There’s a barrenness, almost bleakness which makes you want to buy a croft, put some logs on the fire, get out the typewriter and post a big sign on your front door: no visitors! That of course would be great for a couple of weeks and then you’d want to pop to the shops, or get fed up with being hypothermic. And then you’d be heading down south for some sunshine and retail therapy. I think. Living up here is, like most avenues C and I discuss, an option.

We’re staying at a lovely cottage that James’ mum and dad have rented (hello Bob and Cath!). They’re here for the week – we leave on Friday. It’s been great to get to know them better, but it has hardly helped me get close to finishing the article I’m writing – I think the title is going to be ‘How I became an unsuccessful novelist’. Or similar …

Finally, some of you might have noticed that I have tried to sharpen my Instagram posts. And I am also throwing some stuff out on Twitter. I am trying my best to build a social media presence. More of which later, when I find out whether or not it’s been worthwhile. Anyhow, I must dash. I think we’re out to supper…